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Rob Gronkowski is not a Dirty Player

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I’ll start with this. Rob Gronkowski’s hit on of the Buffalo Bills last Sunday was a dirty play. It was wrong. He was and should have been suspended for a game. But to claim that it’s part of a bigger trend, or that Gronkowski is a dirty player are just plain wrong. We’ve all seen the play, over and over and over again. You’ve seen it so many times that I’m not going to link to it.

But it was one play out of an eight-year career.


Rob Gronkowski’s Penalty History

I realize that we live in a hysterical culture, where everything has to be the worst thing we’ve seen ever.  But can we take a minute to look at some facts?

Here’s Rob Gronkowski’s entire penalty history in the NFL.

Gronkowski has been flagged for unnecessary roughness exactly twice in his eight-year career. That you can remember them says a great deal about their frequency or lack thereof. Lots of false starts. An awful lot of questionable offensive pass interference flags. A couple of taunting penalties, and two unsportsmanlike conduct calls.

But only two unnecessary roughness penalties.


The other one was his block after the whistle on Sergio Brown in 2014. Brown wasn’t injured. There weren’t any calls for him to be suspended after that play. No sane person at the time thought he should be suspended for this. The Colts didn’t think he should be suspended for this. This isn’t that much more than pushing and shoving. Certainly no risk of serious injury. Definitely not a “dirty” play.

Yet, for some reason, there are twitter warriors thinking that this indicates a history. Some other people have pointed to the scuffle at the end of Super Bowl XLIX – but clearly, that was started by the Seahawks, and again, nobody at the time was calling for a suspension.

In eight NFL seasons, he’s had exactly one play that really crossed the line. One. I get that it’s fashionable to hate the Patriots. I get that people feel the need to be hysterical over everything, but you do so at the expense of your credibility.

Gronkowski made a mistake and one that everyone who knows him finds to be completely out of character. He’s serving a suspension for it. But he’s never done anything remotely like that before and it’s very unlikely that he’ll ever do anything like that again. Period.

Photo by WEBN-TV

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Mike Cooney
Mike is a lifelong Boston sports fan. He's got a degree in journalism from Northeastern University, and has been writing about sports in various methods since the mid-1990's. He's gotten to meet Bobby Orr, Luis Tiant, Rich Gedman, Nomar Garciaparra, and once shut out Carlos Pena's two twin brothers in a game of foosball at McCoy Stadium.